Not all suppliers are created equal. Undoubtedly, you want to build your business with the support of the best suppliers, and to do that, you need to become adept at identifying suppliers who will contribute to your business’s success.
Though the exact specifications of a superior supplier will depend on what in particular you need from your supply chain, here are a few characteristics of suppliers that are unlikely to let you down.
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You never want to work with a supplier that is incapable of delivering the products or services your business needs. Many unscrupulous suppliers will claim to have capabilities well beyond their expertise and resources; you will need to research their current production capabilities to ensure that they can meet your exact requirements. In truth, capability should not merely be a characteristic of a high-quality supplier but of any supplier, you work with within your supply chain.
Unless your business is a true pioneer, creating a product the like of which has never been seen, you can benefit from suppliers who have more experience in your industry and market than you have.
Suppliers can provide valuable insight into common problems associated with production, such as legal issues or transportation concerns that businesses often overlook. To unlock the advantages of expertise, you may need to invest in a deep relationship with your supplier, but doing so is worth the time and effort.
In business, professionals must take accountability for their errors. You need to know that you are working with a supplier that is willing to admit its mistakes and rectify any wrongs they have caused.
During the sourcing process, you might ask potential suppliers for examples of problems that have occurred with projects of the past and how they responded. If they admitted their part in the problem and worked with their clients to make the products right, you will likely come to value this sense of accountability.
It is important to cultivate relationships with suppliers whose corporate culture aligns well with your own. This isn’t to say that you must utilize only suppliers with the same general societal culture; in fact, you are likely to find suppliers around the world with vastly different social beliefs and practices.
Rather, you need to find a supplier with similar professional goals to your organization’s objectives and with values that mirror your own. For example, if environmental sustainability is a core value for your business, you should identify suppliers that make sustainability a central tenant of their culture, as well.
Communication is key in all areas of business, but when you are working with a third-party supplier, both you and they must prioritize communication. You should have access to English-speaking staff who engage in open and direct communication about issues that impact the materials and products your business needs.
They should be easy to reach and respond to messages with speed and clarity. You should get a sense of a supplier’s communication capabilities during the sourcing and negotiation phases; if you are disappointed then, it is best to move on to a different option.
High-quality suppliers recognize that their success lies in their ability to meet the demand and expectations of their clients. After all, without businesses to serve, a supplier has no chance to grow and thrive. Still, some suppliers remain resistant to outside control and are less than cooperative when it comes to receiving requests or feedback.
You can get a sense of a supplier’s willingness to cooperate by asking for the opportunity to engage in factory oversight or to assign a third party to provide quality control. If you receive pushback, you may need to look for a more amenable supplier.
Ethical business behavior has become more and more important as more and more information about the employee and environmental treatment becomes available to consumers.
Because you don’t want your business to take a reputation hit for the behavior of its suppliers, you need to be certain that your suppliers have strong business ethics, which means they will not abuse or exploit anyone or anything in the process of making your goods or providing your services.
The more high-quality suppliers in your supply chain, the better. You can maintain strong relationships with your excellent suppliers through a vendor management program, which will help you and your suppliers communicate, coordinate and find mutual success in the future.